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The Dovekeepers

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  52,599 Ratings  ·  6,956 Reviews
The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel: “striking….Hoffman grounds her expansive, intricately woven, and deepest new novel in biblical history, with a devotion and seriousness of purpose” (Entertainment Weekly).

Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean d
Paperback, 505 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Scribner (first published October 4th 2011)
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Linda Sands I listened to the entire book on audio- car listening and treadmill listening the best. Life Hack: change the pace of the reading to +1.75. You will…moreI listened to the entire book on audio- car listening and treadmill listening the best. Life Hack: change the pace of the reading to +1.75. You will cut HOURS off the time and it makes yo really pay attention. I loved that i knew the correct pronunciation of the names at book club.
Terri Can't wait to watch ... Ziva (Cote de Pablo) from NCIS will be playing the Witch of Moab. CBS March 30/April 1

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 05, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, mmxi
There are many reasons why I wouldn’t like this book:

1. I hate feeling dumb.

2. It’s set in Ancient Israel, 70 C.E. to be exact, and the fact that I had to ask what C.E. meant --being a child of B.C and A.D --did not go over well (Refer to #1)

3. It’s set in Ancient Israel and I, shamefully, have absolutely no clue what happened back then. I mean… besides the Last Temptation of Christ and bible stories that I kind of sort of remember. (#1)

4. The author also wrote Practical Magic, which I have not
Amy Bruno
Oct 19, 2011 Amy Bruno rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: Sharon Kay Penman
Never before has a book entranced me the way The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman has. I’ve literally just finished reading this book and I can’t get my mind to settle down. It’s almost as if I’ve ran a race, my adrenaline is pumping and my heart beating a mile a minute, scenes from the book keep going around and around in my head. My urgent need to tell everyone about this beautifully haunting book is taking over all other thoughts, so I need to get this review out before I explode!

Alice Hoffman is
Jennifer Rayment
Aug 16, 2011 Jennifer Rayment rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
The Good Stuff

* I wish I had the words to express how wonderful this book is. I will be honest if Simon and Schuster hadn't sent it to me for review, I probably wouldn't have picked it up and let me tell you that would have been a shame. This book is haunting and sad but yet so full of hope and of the resilience of the human spirit
* Beautiful raw and honest story and just so god-damned emotional to read
* Exceptionally real and strong female characters
* History written so it comes alive and y
The Dovekeepers on its surface sounds like it has the potential to be incredibly moving, and I had high hopes. Yet I found the reading to be more of an exercise in frustration and perseverance. The frustration is largely the result of the book's lack of development, which might sound weird to say about a 500+ page novel. It is described on its cover as a story of the siege of Masada, but fans of historical fiction will be sadly disappointed; the historical context is woefully underdeveloped. It ...more
For fans of Alice Hoffman this book is a mixture of the new and the familiar. Devotees will recognize the strong women with unusual, even magical abilities. What's new is the historical setting and time---the fortress of Masada in the year 70 CE. Also, Hoffman's language struck me as different in this book.

I think whether or not readers like this book will hinge on their reaction to the language Hoffman uses to recreate the world of her women. I loved the level of detail. I felt the sea salt in
Christina White
Alice Hoffman brought me back in time and I enjoyed learning about what life was like in 70 C.E. The writing was beautiful and at times poetic. I like my poetry in short doses though and after two hundred pages of lyrical prose I was ready to move on with the story. I liked the book, in fact I was swept away in the lives of the brave women it was about. Revka, Aziza, Shirah and Yael were strong women who lived amazing lives and were the only survivors of the Masada massacre. Unfortunately, the p ...more
Linda Hart
Jul 10, 2012 Linda Hart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exceptional read. This is a masterpiece, a wonderful, mesmerizing book about the lives of four strong Jewish women, each with different backgrounds, powerful personalities, and distinct stories of there own. Their histories collided when destiny/circumstances found them living at the Jewish stronghold, Masada, during the last and final siege by the Romans. According to the historian, Josephus, two of these women and five children survived the horrendous event.

I agree with Janet, a goodreads
Will Byrnes
We were no different from the doves above us. We could not speak or cry, but when there was no choice we discovered we could fly. It you want a reason, take this: We yearned for our portion of the sky.
Masada, the word summons up images, war, Romans, Zealots, slaughter, mass suicide. A place of national pride for some, historical and archaeological controversy for many, a bit of Python mockery to others. On visiting the place itself Alice Hoffman was inspired to wonder about the experience of t
B the BookAddict
Apr 28, 2013 B the BookAddict rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Angela Always Reading's review

Alice Hoffman will teach the reader about an event which most of us know nothing about: this is a factual story with fictional characters interwoven. Four women who are refugees at Masada over 2000 years ago; Hoffman tells their story – will you listen?

 photo 300px-Masada_room_by_David_Shankbone_zpsde6483f8.jpg

this is where they worked: a dovecote at Masada

 photo masada-fortress-430588-xl_zps94cb3a4c.jpg

this is where they lived: the fortress at Masada

A colossal triumph; Hoffman shines in this endeavour which took her five years to write. Interesting? Hell, yeah! This story, the fact and the fictio
Bookdragon Sean
This was massively underwhelming. The plot was terrible; it had no real development or drive. In reality, it barely existed at all. The story just followed the lives of some rather mundane characters. There was little to keep me reading. They weren’t really striving for anything, beyond survival; thus, I found myself getting quite bored with their stories. They just weren’t very remarkable. The historical detail was minimal, and the random magic elements that were worked in the plot were just so ...more
Cathrine ☯
Being a huge AH fan I’m somewhat embarrassed with my rating and reception to this novel. With only a couple of exceptions, every GR friend who read it rated it very highly. Writers Toni Morrison and Wally Lamb praised it as well. So what’s up with me? I offer up my thoughts for those very few of you who also struggled.

I ended up feeling like many of the Jews wandering in the desert for forty years, except for me it was forty years of five hundred pages. Initially, the chosen people were hap
Jason Golomb
"Dovekeepers" is the first book I've read of Alice Hoffmans'. In fact, one evening my wife looked at the book while I was reading in bed and said: "You're reading Alice Hoffman? I've read Alice Hoffman. But you don't read Alice Hoffman!"
And so I DID read Alice Hoffman and I liked Alice Hoffman. This is a very good book. It's real deep and very weighty.
"Dovekeepers" orbits around the real life events of the early 70s A.D. in ancient Judea. Rome was large and in charge and in the midst of shatter
This is a work of historical fiction. The story is based on the Roman attack on the fortress at Masada in 73 A.D. and the resulting mass suicide. Since I have visited this site in present-day Israel, I was interested in reading a novel based on this event.

In terms of the history, Hoffman has done an admirable job of researching and narrating the events at Masada. She describes the time, place and culture of the ancient Hebrews with great detail.

However, in terms of the fictional part of the nove
Mandy Crider
Apr 20, 2015 Mandy Crider rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again a book I picked up because of book club. One of the few books I have read in my life that made me sob like a baby at the end. I've heard they're making this into a mini series and I can't wait for it if they do. I enjoyed the four stories of the women and how they meshed together. An emotional ride for anyone who reads. Such an outstanding work of art based on four women who come together and become family despite their backgrounds. Really enjoyed!
Jan 09, 2012 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Judea AD 70 ..."The First Jewish-Roman War"

In the years after the destruction of the second temple, approx. 900 Jewish rebels and their families fled Jerusalem and took refuge in the fortress of Masada in the Judean desert.

Women Dovekeeper's: collecting birds eggs, gathering droppings to ferlise the fortress's orchard's.
These women tending to the Masada's dovecotes, formed a small community within a larger one. They each bring their conflicts with them. They live with guilt, grief, loss, famil
Mar 07, 2017 Camie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been called Alice Hoffman's masterpiece, her most ambitious and mesmerizing writing, and I surely agree. This is the richly told story of four strong and mysterious women from diverse paths who find themselves drawn together as sacred dovekeepers for the 900 Jews who held off the fierce Roman army for months in the Judean desert at the mountain fortress Masada. No doubt you know something about the famous siege, and this great fictional (yet fact related tale) has all of the ancien ...more
Rachelle Urist
May 11, 2012 Rachelle Urist rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's pure soap opera. When the story's moving, it engages. Otherwise, it's stagnant and annoying.

This book has the nasty whiff of Anita Diamont: phony historicity; extraneous research thrown in because she has it, not because it fits; names of objects (e.g.: "birthing stool") that are never explained (probably because the author is clueless about its use); predictable outcomes (of course Yael will fall in love with the enslaved legionnaire); repetitive themes and phrases, ponderous and heavy-han
Mandy R
Jun 03, 2012 Mandy R rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The only reason I would give this book 2 Stars is due to the amount of research that Alice Hoffman had obviously put into this novel, which I certainly appreciated. Honestly though, I think that this roughly 500 page book could have been done in about 200 pages.

Poetic descriptions saturated this novel, making for an incredibly dull read. When an author spends two pages describing wind I would rather not read it. I get it, it's windy! It has no bearing on the plot, would you please move on with t
The desire for Jerusalem was a fire that could not be quenched. There was a spark inside that holiest of holy places that made people want to possess it, and what men yearn for they often destroy.

I've realized that when I rate a book on GR, four stars mean that it's a really good book and that I would highly recommend it to most people, but when I rate a book five stars it mostly means that there was a personal connection with the book. This was definitely the case with The Dovekeepers, although
May 29, 2013 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has a table with one leg an inch too short
Recommended to Susan by: Book group
I wore garments of green, white, and blue as I traversed the distance from my chamber to the chamber of Lynda, who lives in a county where rivers run not to the great inland sea where I can watch the sun rise every morning, but to the river that once formed the boundary between our land and lands of the Spanish Empire before an audacious Corsican who tried to conquer all of Europe agreed to sell them to President Jefferson. Moving toward the setting of the sun, which the Greeks believed rode acr ...more
Apr 26, 2016 Tracey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Omy goodness ! I don't think I've ever read a book with such strong female characters, not just 1 but 4 , all of whom I loved and routed for.
Yael a young woman with red hair who is 'touched' by a lion and has an affinity with the doves she comes to take care of.
Revka a bakers wife who escapes with her grandchildren after witnessing horrors so terrible that I wondered how she continued.
Aziza is a warrior, the first born daughter of a woman who's wise ways and old magic will touch them all.
Diane S ☔
Oct 16, 2011 Diane S ☔ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazingly powerful novel about the fall of Jerusalem and Masada. This took Hoffman five years to write and it is said to be her masterpiece, which for me it was. Four women of uncommon strength of will, magic , love and their quest for survival. Her writing is flawless, one feels the barrenness and the struggle for life in the dessert, their torment as they watch their family members taken from them, yet find the will to go on. Trying to keep their faith in God intact and find a way to r ...more
Ben Kane
Mar 02, 2012 Ben Kane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every December, I trawl through the newspaper articles 'Best Books of the Year', noting down any titles that appeal to me. I'm picky, so it's usually only a few. In December 2011, The Dovekeepers was one of two titles that I wrote down. I'm usually pleased by these choices, recommended by other authors or academics, but rarely am I transported the way that I was upon reading this magical book.

Other reviewers have ably described the plotline, so I won't go into it here. Suffice it to say that the
Over two thousand years ago a group of approximately 900 Jewish rebels fled Jerusalem and settled in the ancient fortress called Masada. Set high in the desert mountains, the fortress had been constructed for King Herod and was considered to be impenetrable. In this novel, Alice Hoffman traces the paths of four fictional women whose intertwined lives become apparent when they arrive at Masada seeking refuge. Hoffman weaves a tale of friendship, love, loyalty and sorrow set against the background ...more
Apr 30, 2012 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Story Description:

Over five years in the writing, The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel, a tour de force of imagination and research, set in ancient Israel.

In 70 C.E., nine-hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold,
Deb Carpenter
Mar 18, 2012 Deb Carpenter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Doves were caged and kept for a number of reasons. One of those reasons was so they would be ready and available for sacrifice. Another was so they could carry messages for their captors. Those who kept doves knew to send only one of a pair as a messenger so that the bird would return. Even though it was untethered and free to escape while on its mission, the dove would return to its cage, where its mate waited in the dovecote.
The dovekeepers understood the heart of the dove. “Love made you give
Diane Barnes
I have always loved Alice Hoffman novels, even though I am not a big fan of mysticism and magical reality as a rule. But she's such a good writer that I believe whatever she tells me. In this book there is more of the same, backed up by history and archeology.
The siege of Masada is the backdrop, and the stories of 4 smart, strong, brave women who dare everything for the ones they love, even sins against their God. Religion must sometimes be sacrificed for survival, and common sense and love for
Angela M
Jun 29, 2013 Angela M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was absolutely taken by this amazing story which was based on historical events of which I knew nothing about. The writing is beautiful and the story of these strong and willful women will remain with me for a long time.
Crystal Craig
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah Ryburn
I've finally finished this lengthy read. Hoffman tells the tragedy of Masada, King Herod's mountain fortress and the refuge of 900 Jewish rebels and their families who fled the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, through four female narrators. What an experience! The place, Masada, and the struggle of its inhabitants to survive, their faith intact, came to vivid life through these pages, but it was not always an easy read. There were sittings when I read no more than 20 or 30 pages. That's unusual for m ...more
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Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York ...more
More about Alice Hoffman...

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“Here is the riddle of love: Everything it gives to you, it takes away.” 98 likes
“I knew what it was to yearn for a life so distant it seemed that it had never been anything more than a dream.” 51 likes
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